Have you ever been the subject of gossip or been accused of something you did not do by other Christians? I think we can safely assume we have all been there at one time or another. I’ve heard it said that no one can hurt you more deeply than a fellow Christian, and, unfortunately, I believe it just may be true. I think it hurts more because we expect it of the world, but we don’t expected it from God’s own people and are often blindsided by such actions.
It breaks my heart to have conflict in my church and I can’t even imagine how God feels about it. When I am being talked about, lied about, or treated unjustly, my first reaction is to fight back and defend myself. I want to run to everyone the “wrong doers” have talked to and give them my side of the story. I wanted to shout Proverbs 18:17 (“The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.) at the top of my lungs. However, this behavior would only get me into trouble because I am not supposed to do the defending, I am supposed to let God do it.
Exodus 23:20- 22 (NLT): “See, I am sending an angel before you to protect you on your journey and lead you safely to the place I have prepared for you. 21 Pay close attention to him, and obey his instructions. Do not rebel against him, for he is my representative, and he will not forgive your rebellion. 22 But if you are careful to obey him, following all my instructions, then I will be an enemy to your enemies, and I will oppose those who oppose you.
Isaiah 54:17 (NKJ): No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn.
Let me tell you, that it is much easier said (written) than done! It is only human to get upset and to react in these types of situations; however, it doesn’t make it right. [Furthermore, I show a lack of faith when I defend myself because my actions do not reflect confidence that God will make it right. ] Scripture is very clear on how we are handle those who do us wrong.
Romans 12: 14 (NIV): 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
Romans 12:19 (NIV): Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[d] says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”[e] 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Exodus 23(NIV): 23 “Do not spread false reports. Do not help a guilty person by being a malicious witness.
2 “Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you give testimony in a lawsuit, do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd, 3 and do not show favoritism to a poor person in a lawsuit.
4 “If you come across your enemy’s ox or donkey wandering off, be sure to return it. 5 If you see the donkey of someone who hates you fallen down under its load, do not leave it there; be sure you help them with it.
Praying and doing good things for those who have done or are doing you wrong is more than difficult, but it must be done. You see, God knows that the fight is not with the people but with Satan. Satan is merely using God’s people to do his dirty work. When we defend our self instead of letting God Almighty do it, then we are falling in the trap of Satan because we are only adding to the strife and division. Let’s face it, God can do a much better job at defending us than we ever could. It is honestly a spiritual battle and not a natural one; however, when we follow the ways of the Lord (spiritual), he will defend us in the natural. Remember Exodus 23: 22?
“22 But if you are careful to obey him, following all my instructions, then I will be an enemy to your enemies, and I will oppose those who oppose you.”
We must remember God’s timing is not our timing, so he may not move as quickly as we like, but I promise you he will move. We must not be like Abraham’s wife, Sarah, and try to help God out with his promises. Sarah grew impatient waiting on God to fulfill his promise to make Abraham a father, so she convinced Abraham to take a second wife in order to father children. By taking matters into her own hands she brought down heaps of troubles on herself, her husband, and her future family. This trouble, mind you, could have been avoided had she just waited on and trusted in the Lord. [Please see Thankful Thursday-Week 11 (6/20/13)for more on God’s restoration.]
When we are tempted to defend ourselves, our friends, our church, or our God, we must remember what is at stake. We must consider the consequences of our actions. If speaking up is going to bring further harm, further divide, or hurt God’s church in any way, we should absolutely refrain. When I was in the midst of this struggle, God reminded me of the following story:
1 Kings 3:16-27 (NIV):
Now two women who were harlots came to the king, and stood before him. 17 And one woman said, “O my lord, this woman and I dwell in the same house; and I gave birth while she was in the house. 18 Then it happened, the third day after I had given birth, that this woman also gave birth. And we were together; no one was with us in the house, except the two of us in the house. 19 And this woman’s son died in the night, because she lay on him.20 So she arose in the middle of the night and took my son from my side, while your maidservant slept, and laid him in her bosom, and laid her dead child in my bosom. 21 And when I rose in the morning to nurse my son, there he was, dead. But when I had examined him in the morning, indeed, he was not my son whom I had borne.”
22 Then the other woman said, “No! But the living one is my son, and the dead one is your son.”
And the first woman said, “No! But the dead one is your son, and the living one is my son.”
Thus they spoke before the king.
23 And the king said, “The one says, ‘This is my son, who lives, and your son is the dead one’; and the other says, ‘No! But your son is the dead one, and my son is the living one.’”24 Then the king said, “Bring me a sword.” So they brought a sword before the king. 25 And the king said, “Divide the living child in two, and give half to one, and half to the other.”
26 Then the woman whose son was living spoke to the king, for she yearned with compassion for her son; and she said, “O my lord, give her the living child, and by no means kill him!”
But the other said, “Let him be neither mine nor yours, but divide him.”
27 So the king answered and said, “Give the first woman the living child, and by no means kill him; she is his mother.”
You see, true followers and lovers of Jesus Christ, would much rather keep their mouths shut and take “the hit” rather than destroy something they love. The first woman loved her son so much that she would rather those him forever than see him harmed. Can you say the same thing? Are your actions or reactions reflecting your love for Jesus or the love for yourself. I will be the first to admit that in times pasts, I was unable to swallow my pride and I split the baby. I am making different choices now because my love for Jesus, his people, and his message are more important to me than what anyone else may say or think. I am a recovering people-pleaser, and I am on my way to being a God-pleaser.
I hope you have found this helpful, I know I have. Thank you Lord for this reminder.
Until next time, stay safe and God bless,